Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Toot Toot...

It’s unmistakable, the toot of the underground train whistling at the same piece of track. The last time I heard it was summer, hot and humid. It is so recognisable that while visiting an elderly member of our congregation my mind is drawn to one of those special days in ministry….

….We pull up outside the multi-storey flats in the mini-bus. The Points is one of London’s worst estates in the poorest area in the UK. Stolen burnt out cars. Graffiti. Drug debris. Abandoned tyres all paint the picture. Richard – our community worker – and I pick our way through broken glass and worse and make our way up the 19 floors to flat 79. We’re helping a young family move.

Winston makes us a cup of tea and introduces us to his wife and 8 month old baby. I look around. The flat even in this heat is damp. The baby smiles through a mask of half dried breakfast. “Thanks for helping we can’t even afford the bus fare to get the stuff out of this hole”.

The mini-bus is full. We take the first load to the new flat. “Paradise, no burnt out cars” Richard observes! We pick our way through the broken glass to the new flat! I cunningly unload the bus while Richard and Winston journey three storeys to the flat. “Hello”, I turn and see Michelle. “Alfie’s in school now” she volunteers before I ask. ”heh, that’s why we didn’t see you in toddler’s?”, she smiles “what are you doing here?” I explain. She looks, smiles “that’s what I like about your church – it gets involved”.

Several trips later I’m getting to know Winston -"so you are like a minister then?” then he looks at me and says “why are you doing this?”. “well….” I begin. It is good to belong to a provocative church.

That night I watch the prestigious Panasonic Mercury awards for the best new Album on the British music scene. Urban MC Dizzie Rascal becomes the youngest winner of the award. A one-time member of our senior youth club has stumbled into fame and finds himself in front of millions thanking God, his family and those in the underground. I wonder if those months where we encouraged him and his friends helped.

I watch his video and smile as I recognise where he lives – I wonder if he has found his way out of The Points.

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